Category Archives: Stephen Black

Coffee and AR: Prepare for impact!

This is a draft. A different, final version of this story will appear in Coffee Traveler magazine later this year. If you know of any examples of AR being used in the coffee industry, do let me know!

Coffee and AR: Prepare for Impact!

Augmented Reality will soon be everywhere. How can the coffee industry prepare itself for this revolutionary new technology?

2017 can be considered the start of Augmented Reality. Six hundred million iPhones became enabled for AR. One hundred million Android users also gained AR functionality. Facebook, Microsoft, Intel and other companies released or improved AR products. Time magazine, in an issue guest-edited by Bill Gates, used AR on its cover. There is no doubt that AR will become a very, very big thing, as common as GPS.

But what is AR, Augmented Reality? And, in what ways will AR impact the coffee industry?

AR is a technology that combines digital data with the physical world. The digital data can be sound, text, graphics, video or 3D models (like what you see in many computer games.) The ”physical world” can be as large as the Sydney Opera House or as small as a matchbox: books, table tops, living rooms and parks-- anywhere! At present, AR can be experienced with phones and tablets, though special glasses, like Microsoft’s Hololens or Google Glass may become common. AR is used for industrial, educational, medical, entertainment,research and other purposes.

The first huge AR success was Pokemon GO, which hides digital creatures in real world locations. With Ikea’s AR app, customers can put digital furniture in their real homes, allowing them to select the best color and size. Coca Cola and Boeing, like many companies, use AR to aid in the repair and maintenance of machinery.

An Australian wine company called 19 Crimes created an app that allows the photographs on their labels to move, speak and tell stories. According to Forbes magazine, this AR app resulted in over one million cases of wine being sold, and an increase of volume sales by 60%.

AR is nearly unlimited; it can play audio, interact with users, function like GPS, display graphics, photos, videos and more. AR gamers fight flying spaceship battles in their bedrooms. In restaurants, menu applications by KabaQ display AR models of food.

Starbucks, whose first AR project was launched in 2011, recently created a “coffee wonderland” in Shanghai. Called the Roastery, it features a number of AR experiences. Its centerpiece is a huge copper vessel covered with almost three thousand hand carved Chinese seals that tell the story of Starbucks. Using AR, visitors can “look inside” the huge structure, and see the beans being poured in, roasted, and then finally transported through copper pipes to the coffee bars.

Because they have come to the Roastery specifically to experience,and learn about coffee, visitors are likely to download the digital tour guide. There is also a QR code version. When planning to make an AR app, the first issue is: download or not? The second being the Apple/Android issue.

An augmented reality app is used in the new Starbucks Roastery in Shanghai, China. Photographed on Friday, December 1, 2017. (Joshua Trujillo, Starbucks)[/caption]

It is a wonderful idea to create a customized AR app, what is called a “native” app. However, potential users may be discouraged by file size and download time. A native app may not be the best choice at trade shows or public spaces without high speed wifi. Fortunately, not all AR requires a native app. And, there is WebAR, which works on both Apple and Android and does not requirea download, only a link.

The Roastery chose AR because it was the best solution-- not because AR is trendy. Perhaps they could have used video monitors- but how many? And where to position them? Plus, visitors would not be able to pause, replay or start the presentation.

photo by Eva Yoo. Used with permission

Location: companies with big budgets can create AR experiences for large spaces. Snapchat put giant AR sculptures by Jeff Koons in front of the Eiffel Tower and in Central Park. Waterloo Station was the site of an AR game created by Cadbury, and AR rhinos roamed in the Rotterdam train station, thanks to National Geographic.

Augmented Reality is now used in homes, factories, airplanes, and living rooms. It is becoming a new medium, like radio or television. AR is becoming an artform and, in advertising, AR is connecting producers and consumers in new ways. It will be interesting to watch the seeds of AR grow in the world of coffee.

Stephen Black is an artist, writer and producer. He is now completing a novel about an archild, an AR software that looks like a ten-year old girl. His startup aims to be the Pixar of AR. Look out for Bubiko Foodtour! www.blacksteps.tv

A very special thanks to Antony Vitillo for technical proofreading and great ideas galore. Antony’s blog is called The Ghost Howls (http://skarredghost.com). He is a consultant at New Technology Walkers (http://ntwalkers.it/en)

Photo of phone/Chinese seals: courtesy of Starbucks

Photos of screenshots: Eva Yoo

Writing and the Digital Avante-garde

The slides are explained here.

TEST READERS WANTED: If you would like to be one of the first to read about ANTIGONE CLOUD, email Stephen Black at bubikofoodtour@gmail.com

Antigone Cloud is a ten-year old girl who is actually an arbot, a softwre program made of light. Antigone, who lives in Singapore, has the body of a ghost and the mind of an emotional computer.

The Bubiko Orwell Tour/Startup/Pitchdeck/Presentation

Risk is what differentiates business from entrepreneurship, separates art from craft. It is said that the greater the risk, the greater the rewards. I hope this to be true: last year, my partner and I took the biggest risk we possibly could.

A visa complication presented us with a choice: we could return to our homelands or we could do a research and networking tour of Southeast Asia, focusing on food, AR and VR.

We decided to tour. We had only the clothes we were wearing, no computer, no significant savings. No firm plan, only ideas. That was a year ago.

Now:

- I have completed the first draft of Eating Where Orwell Ate, a collection of stories and essays about Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Myanmar.

- We have a database of food, restaurants and culinary experiences. A sample. Bubiko Foodtour has been launched on her journey to AR superstardom.

- We have established a physical and digital network of individuals, associations, companies and educational that are genuinely interested in AR.

- We have characters! Bubiko Foodtour, Secret Donut World and The Dobots(with David Severn) and The Dundercats(with permission from the IP owners).

- We’re finalizing the world’s first AR photo exhibition!

In short, the past year has been extremely productive.

I will be giving a presentation at the February session of the Sundowner networking event at the Sasin School of Management. Sasi is an AACSB and EQUIS accredited business school founded in 1982 through a collaboration among Chulalongkorn University and the Kellogg School of Management and the Wharton Business School.

Here is the info:

AR: An Introduction for Entrepreneurs, Adventurers and Artists

There will soon be over a billion AR-friendly phones and devices. This presentation explains what AR (Augmented Reality) is, and discusses noteworthy projects, ideas, business models and artworks. The AR-related investments of Google, Apple, Microsoft, Epson and Facebook have created a frontier full of possibilities. Are you ready?

About Stephen Black

An American who has spent most of his life in Asia, Black has worked for Fuji TV, France 2, Fox, CNN and Cartoon Network, as well as with exceptional musicians, artists and writers. He is experienced with the creation of 3D games, and has taught gamemaking classes. He is also an established visual artist with a BFA in Photographic Illustration from the Rochester Institute of Technology.

With Eugene Soh, Stephen curated SPOKEN, a virtual art exhibition. With hiverlab, he wrote, produced and starred in Beach Road, a 360 VR film which was featured at festivals in Brisbane, Las Vegas and Singapore.

Stephen has written eight books, including i ate tiong bahru, a bestseller in Singapore. His next book will be Eating Where Orwell Ate, inspired by his 2017 Southeast Asian AR research tour. Its cover will feature AR.

Stephen enjoys helping Bubiko Foodtour research mango sticky rice. His website is www.blacksteps.tv

Penang Christmas 24 hour Food Documentation

Artist/writer/AR startup founder Stephen Black's photo notes for a story to be featured in Eating Where Orwell Ate. The documentation began about 10PM on December 24, 2017 and lasted for about 24 hours.

Eating Where Orwell Ate is a companion piece to his bestselling book i ate tiong bahru.

19 Crimes AR: the artwork of the millennium (Viva la ARPOP!)

19 Crimes has created the most relevant artwork of the millenium. With it, ARPOP is born. Ponder its relationship with:

- Rembrandt, Dodd, Warhol, and Anderson

- the legacy of black and white photography

- the world becoming MOMA

- the innovations of VR artists

- the act of viewing. AR can become a form of performance art on a private, intimate level

- cinema!

- a companion piece: Duchamp's urinal.

- the "lighthouses"(galleries, theatres and museums) that are no longer the dominant guides for social and cultural navigation. AR, GPS and social media, viewed on glowing phones and tablets, are replacing ivory towers. Decentralization is the future. 19 Crimes exemplifies the future of art.

-ARPOP is born.

I will be discussing ARPOP at ECHA this weekend:

Check Stephen Black on Facebook for details on live broadcasts.

TREE

composition with hands

from the TREE exhibition by Stephen Black

Stephen Black presents TREE, 12 images symbolizing his thoughts and experiences of 2017.The year was spent experiencing Southeast Asia: Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand.The images themselves are usually abstract, and are accompanied by short texts that connect to topics such as food, AR, social media and world events, as well as personal experiences.

Beach Road, Stephen Black's short film, was recently featured in the Singapore National Museum's VR Showcase.Black has worked for media giants such as Cartoon Network, Fox, Fuji TV and France 2, as well worked on small indie projects. Black co-founded 3how, a music/performance group that has released one CD, as well as appeared at the Singapore Night Festival and other festivals in Singapore. A bestselling author, he is now working on a new book called Eating Where Orwell Ate.

Ipoh Identity Digital Sketches: Miscellanious

The first part of this three part series is here. tin dredge branding for destination cities

Ipoh: the brand (sketches)

tin dredge

Selamat sejahtera,

Di sini saya ingin mengucapkan terima kasih kepada semua orang atas layanan yang diberikan kepada saya pada pagi Jumaat yang lalu. Saya amat bersyukur kerana diberi peluang untuk menyaksikan permulaan kepada identiti baru Ipoh yang lebih berkuasa. Semoga yang terbaik kepada semua yang terlibat dengan perjalanan ini. Berikut merupakan lakaran saya setelah sekian lama bekerja dalam bidang seperti : AR, seni, siaran televisyen, creative direction, tarian, pembuatan permainan, perfileman,promosi, VR dan menulis.“I Ate Tiong Bahru”, sebuah buku ditulis oleh saya merupakan buku terlaris di Singapura. Berikut merupakan ulasan dari Goodreads. Di Amazon. Audiobook.Kepada sesiapa yang berminat, saya boleh menghantar buku saya kepada anda dalam versi "ebook".

Artist in residence: Independent Archive ((Singapore,2016) Grey Projects (Singapore, 2015)

Beach Road” merupakan sebuah filem 360° yang ditulis, diterbit, dimasukkan sumber muzik dan dibintangi oleh saya. Ia dapat dimuat turun secara percuma di Google Play dan App Store.

SPOKEN pula ialah sebuah VR hasil kerjasama dengan Eugene Soh, dan dibintangi oleh sekumpulan artis dan penulis yang bernama dan tidak bernama.

Bubiko Foodtour” merupakan sebahagian dari projek 2 tahun yang melibatkan karakter 3D yang akan digunakan dalam AR dan media lain. Karakter 3D yang lain ialah “Secret Donut World” dan “The Doughbots”. Saya juga terlibat dalam penghasilan “The Dundercats”.

Saya mempunyai “BFA in Photographic Illustration” dan telah membuat pameran di seluruh dunia((Rochester Institute of Technology)). Sebagai jurukamera pertama kepada “Tippling Club”, hasil kerja saya pernah disiarkan dalam majalah Times dan dalam sebuah buku yang berjudul “Coco”, yang diterbitkan oleh Phaedon.

“...a spontaneous, studied and ever eloquent eye.”

-Xu Xi, calon “2007 Man Asian Literary Prize”, member ulasan beliau pada “Bus Stopping”, sebuah buku fotografi saya tentang Singapura. Selain itu, buku tersebut juga menerima ulasan daripada Stelarc, seorang artis ternama yang menghasilkan karya daripada mesin; Cyril Wong, seorang penyair yang terkemuka di Singapura dan Shuhei Takahashi, seorang pengkritik fotografi dari Jepun yang berpengaruhi.

Kebelakangan ini saya telah membuat kajian dengan penyiaran Facebook Live. Siaran langsung 72 jam yang pertama telah dijalankan di Abby Hotel manakala 60 jam yang seterusnya di Symphony Suites Hotel.

Akhirnya saya hampir menyiapkan pameran foto AR pertama di dunia yang berjudul “About Ipoh!”. Sepanjang perjalanan ini saya telah menikmati keindahan Ipoh secara dekat dan sangat teruja untuk menyampaikan keistimewaan Ipoh ke dunia!

Di sini saya berharap anda akan menikmati kajian ini. Sila ambil perhatian bahawa hasil kerja saya telah dibuat menggunakan iPhone dan mempunyai reka bentuk yang mudah kerana saya cuma boleh menggunakan Microsoft Paint!

PS I should also thank Liew Sunchin/Abby Hotel and Ray Ng/Hotel Lotte.

Hello,

I would like to thank everyone for the hospitality shown to me on Friday morning.I truly enjoyed watching a powerful, new Ipoh/Perak brand being formed. I wish everyone all the best with this exciting project.I should also thank Liew Sunchin/Abby Hotel and Ray Ng/Hotel Lotte.

The following digital doodles reflect years of experience in areas like: AR, art, broadcast television, creative direction, dance, gamemaking, movie making, promotion, theatre, VR and writing. One of my books, i ate tiong bahru, is a national bestseller in Singapore. Reviews on Goodreads are here. On Amazon. Audiobook version.I will be happy to send you a free ebook version of I Ate Tiong Bahru.

Beach Road is a 360 film which I wrote, produced, sourced music for and starred in. It is available as a free download on Google Play and the App store.

SPOKEN is a VR co-production with Eugene Soh, and features an international mix of known and unknown artists and writers.

Bubiko Foodtour is a part of a two year plan involving 3D characters that will be used in AR and elsewhere. Bubiko did the photography for this ebook: Other characters are Secret Donut World and The Doughbots. I am also involved with The Dundercats.

I have a BFA in Photographic Illustration(Rochester Institute of Technology) and have exhibited worldwide. As the first photographer for Tippling Club, my work appeared in Time magazine, as well as this book published by Phaedon: Coco.

“… a spontaneous, studied and ever eloquent eye.”

Xu Xi, 2007 Man Asian Literary Prize nominee, commenting upon Bus Stopping, my book of photographs about Singapore. The book also features comments from also features comments from Stelarc, the legendary robotics artist, Singapore Prize winning poet Cyril Wong and Shuhei Takahashi, an influential Japanese photography critic.

Artist in residence: Independent Archive ((Singapore,2016) Grey Projects (Singapore, 2015)

Lately, I have been experimenting with durational Facebook Live broadcasts. The first was for 72 hours, at the Abby Hotel. The second was for 60 hours, at the Symphony Suites Hotel.

Finally, I have almost completed the world's first AR photo exhibition: about Ipoh!

I have jumped into Ipoh wholeheartedly and am excited about communicating Ipoh's personality to the world!

I hope you enjoy these experiments. Please keep in mind that they were created with an iPhone and very, very simple graphic design: I only used Microsoft Paint!

destination city branding

sketch for Ipoh identity campaign

destination cities branding branding for destination cities branding for destination cities

The second part of this three part series is here.

Seeing things

Last night, an old woman's shaking hand pushed my nose towards fish bones and lemongrass. One of the rats ran over the sparkly shoes of a woman from The Golden Palace. She screamed. The man who sells pens came by, so did the man with the folding rattan chair. I stepped on a hot cigarette butt, caught off balance by the hisses of a male intruder. The friendly man with burnt skin sold perfume from a new duffel bag. The monk walked through and studied everyone, offered his bronze bowl to a few. I listened to happiness, drunkenness, boredom, suspicion, lust and a fight. A barefoot boy snapped his fingers, hit me with a bottle cap. Little radios played Cantonese music all night.

Now I’m lying in the sunrise shadows of the red plastic chairs. Coins are being counted on a metal table. The man behind the Apple Daily smokes and drinks coffee.

When I lived in the place with big windows I only worried about rainy days. I had no scars, no friends and two eyes.

Bif “Graybox” Enum: Invisible Game Developer

Powerfrog Troopers Revolution Quest 2: The Croak Goes On (100 million units sold). Who wrote it? Me. Is my name on it? Nope. Tungsten Fortress Golf Romancer III.  Seventy-five million units. Eight months of my life, a nice chunk of change and yet another crate of Katsuyama, but did I get any work from that? NO. Alekhine Defense of Immortal Soccer Regends: Twenty-three million units. I nearly went blind from the nonstop rewriting and revisions. After launch, was my inbox flooded with job offers? No, no and no.

Hi. My name is  Biff Enum and I’m a game designer. “Graybox" is my middle name and scripting addictive interactive stories is my game.

I've contributed to projects that have sold over 585 million cross platform units and yet you’ve never heard of me. Why? Cause I’m a secret agent man. White labellissimo. Ghosty stylee. Incognito. That’s me.

Let’s pretend you are in Kyoto, visiting an “entertainment company” and you are escorted into a room to “have a cup of tea”. You are left alone in a room that looks like the  Videogame Hall of Fame. You have a sense that if you take a photo, your broken camera and/or body parts will remain in the room. Before you can memorize anything, a uniformed kawaii "office lady" enters and says, "I am sorry. It is mistake of room, you can drink with tea upstairs. If you are mention this room to anyone, it is your time of disembowelment, regardless of displaying GPS location. Shall we go?”

My CV is something like that. Guys who are ethically challenged would like to “have a word with me” if I tell anyone about the complete list of projects I’ve worked on. I have been called a “game developer’s game developer” which means my ideas are uncredited and stolen. It’s not always a problem, this whitelabel business. When that bulging diaper called Revenge of Epic of Bloopy Babies hit the fan, I remained search engine safe.

Why do I work so hard for no recognition? Money! I am a narrative artist and since I was in primary school I wanted to write, with passion, stories that shake and explore the emotional blindspots of people. I want to fundamentally compel readers to confront our modern world with all of its contradictions so as to engage better with their fractured lives. In games like Quest of the Galaxy Beach Volleyball, I am able to express myself and to literally put into action all that I learned in the Iowa State Writers Workshop.

My ghostwriter earnings have allowed me to self-publish a speculative fiction novel that combines elements of GTA with Switezianka, an Undine legend about a boar hunter and a water nymph. Visit my blog for updates on this unforgettable postmodern tale of fickle love, European women wearing wet clothes, gunbattles, and ultrahighspeed Pegassi car chases.

Thank you for stopping by.

Biff